But had she lived through years more of controversial love affairs, marriages, more divorces...and the decline of her beauty, society would perhaps have grown cynical about its princess. Her funeral - in the year 2000 and something - might have been a minor and depressing event. As it was, through such a premature death, the aura she had magically generated in sixteen years remained untarnished, intact into the afterlife.
Diana, an English rose by Susan Maxwell Skinner & Anwar Hussein
A new book, called Lady D, by Isabelle Rivère and Caroline Babert, asks the question, What would Diana's life have been like had she lived?
Ultimately, I believe that this premise is an exercise in futility. What would have happened had King Edward VIII not abdicated, John F. Kennedy not been assassinated, or the catastrophe of September 11th not occurred. We'll never know, but life goes on. The death of Diana did happen. With the supposed 'spiral of self-destruction' she went through in her last summer, some might say it was inevitable.
In the year that marks the 10th anniversary of Diana's death, some will feel nostalgic, some will make a note of it, and many won't care. Had she lived it's more than likely that, over time, less and less people would have cared. Without the restraint of Princess Grace, the class of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, or the elegance of Princess Alexandra of Denmark (now Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg), Diana's life would have become somewhat sad over time. Despite paying lip-service to forgiving Prince Charles, the game of one-upmanship would have continued, with Diana pathetically trying to grab headlines in any way she could.
The tell-all books from the likes of Paul Burrell and Simone Simmons - no longer posthumous - would have been postponed. With the cachet of being an insider, Diana was much more valuable to them alive. But like Sarah, Duchess of York, Diana might have created her own cottage industry as a patron of various charities, a foundation in her name, a guest editor of fashion magazines, writing forwards for books or even writing a few books of her own.
It's nice to think that Diana was blossoming and it seems, coming into her own. She was steering two young men towards their destiny. While unlucky in love, the tide might have turned. Like Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis, had she chosen to return to private life, it might even have been possible to find happiness. The list of lives she could have touched, causes she could have highlighted, good she could have done is endless, and sad to think about.
Could Diana have changed the world? Could she have lived happily ever after?
Because of August 31, 1997, we'll never know.
© Marilyn Braun 2007
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